Michel Foucault: The “Institutional Gaze” and disciplining subjects
Basic Guideline: For this assignment you will describe how the “institutional gaze” “disciplines” individual subject in our society by getting them to conform to
particular norms. You will focus on the role of surveillance, documantation and self-regulation in this process.
Detailed Instructions and Steps:
1) Choose an institution and norm – Case Study – Specific Example
a. Choose an institution or corporation (e.g. rehab program or centre), column in a magazine or newspaper, self-help book or manual, etiquette manual
(contemporary or historical) that aims to “discipline” (improve,reform or correct) individual subjects (for example, a health care clinic, social welfare program,
management training program, fitness program, high school, dieting column in a woman’s or men’s magazine, anger self-help book, sports club, etc.)
b. Include an evidence of your case with your assignment. For example, if you are focusing on a rehab institution, hand in a print-out of its website’s home page
relevant to the assignment. Or if your case study is on a self-help book, photocopy sections in the book that are relevant.
c. Describe the norms that the institution, corporation or program uses to judge subjects as inadequate or “deviant” and then subsequently, trains them to
conform to them.
2) “Institutional Gaze”: Surveillance and Judgement
a. Describe how deviant or imperfect subjects are identified, by reports or examinations produced by authoritiesin institutions or corporations (Tagg; Foucault;
Bordo) OR do the subects “self-regulate”(Sturken and Cartwright; Foucault; Bordo): are they trained to identify themselves as abnormal, deviant or imperfect
b. What “evidence” is collected about the individual to determine their normality/abnormality
3) “Discipline”: Reforming “Abnormal”, “Deviant” or “Imperfect” Subjects
a. Describe the disciplinary method: the practices,procedures and/or products prescribed to reform or improve the subject so they conform to norms
b. Is there an “authority” that has developed the practices, procedures and/or products (experts? Expert knowledge?)
c. How are the practices,procedures, and/or products administered (e.g. with a manual or instructions that the subject follows regularly or/and under the
supervision of an expert?)
4) “made visible”: Turned into a Case to be Monitored
a. is the subject’s initial condition and progress recorded in a file kept in a database that is regularly updated and assessed? Or has she or he internalised
self-regulation, constantly comparing her or himself to norms presented in media? (Bordo)
b. if the subject is successfully “disciplined”, what does she or he need to do to maintain her or his improved or reformed state?
5) Power Relations: Disciplines that “ Produce” “Docile Bodies”
a. What are the values associated with the norm? (e.g. good citizen vs bad citizen? Leader vs follower? Masculine and powerful vs female and submissive? Good
mother and homemaker vs selfish woman and careerist? Slim, hard working and in control vs fat,lazy and out of control? Popular and technologically up to date vs
unpopular and technologically illiterate? Etc.)
b. How are these norms “ideological”? (reinforce dominant systems).
c. Can you conclude you have identified the disciplinary gaze and the procedures through which subjects are trained to conform to norms? Is power here visible or
invisible? Or both? Explain your answer: How is power visible/invisible?
Use essay format with an introduction and a conclusion . Ensure that your argument is clear and well supported. Use the five (5) sections of the assignment guideline
above as a model to organize the paper.
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